Johnny America


In­fi­nite Distaste


My an­i­mos­i­ty to­ward David Fos­ter Wal­lace, and my vow to nev­er read any­thing he wrote, start­ed while stand­ing in the Fic­tion sec­tion of a Barnes & No­ble on 8th Av­enue while I was vis­it­ing New York City. Book­less and bored and bat­tered by friends who said I need­ed to read In­fi­nite Jest, I was anx­ious to hand over my cash and start de­vour­ing. Then I saw his picture:

on the book’s oth­er­wise be­nign jack­et. Ban­dan­na, ban­dan­na, im­pu­dent ban­dan­na: it was too much! The wispy hair: adroit­ly plot­ted bed­lam. The turtle­neck, the well-planned beard growth, the soul­ful look: clear­ly ex­e­cut­ed by a man who pos­sess­es no soul! I swore him off.

For Christ­mas my lit­tle sis­ter Jen­ny gave me a pa­per­back copy of Brief In­ter­views With Hideous Men, his newish col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, de­spite know­ing my ques­tion­ably-jus­ti­fied loathing. Cross-legged un­der the tree, the two of us ap­point­ed heads of present dis­tri­b­u­tion, I tried to push it back to her, but when you’re twen­ty-eight and your grand­moth­er says, “leave your sis­sy alone and take your present like a Big Boy,” there is lit­tle room for rebuttal.

Filed under Books on January 8th, 2004

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Reader Comments

Jay wrote:

You’re a whiney one, Derek.

Thanks for the ping. All ban­danas aside, DFW is a pret­ty good writer.

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